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“I have also acted to protect the lives of Americans by my adherence to the doctrine of “just war.” This doctrine, as articulated by Augustine, suggested that war must only be waged as a last resort— for a discernible moral and public good, with the right intentions, vetted through established legal authorities (a constitutionally required declaration of the Congress), and with a likely probability of success.”
 ~ Ron Paul, July 2007

Earlier in the year, when the primary season was still going for Republicans, I read an approbation of Ron Paul, and heard a defense of his apparent isolationism, citing his adherence to Augustine’s doctrine of “just war.”  I know that Ron Paul wants American forces out of Iraq immediately.  Aside from his economic policy, this is his second biggest campaign pillar.  Having already decided that his take on the US Constitution and federal government are impossible to implement (and also incompatible with the intentions of the founding fathers), I didn’t research Augustine’s position any further until I read another quote from Augustine in The Preacher and the Presidents

The way Christians embraced Ron Paul because he follows Augustine disturbed me, because as Christians, we are not bound to agree with or follow the teaching of any religious leader.  I follow God and His inspired word, the Bible.  Augustine, being human, can make mistakes. 

Augustine’s ‘Just War’ entry on Wikipedia says, “Firstly, war must occur for a good and just purpose rather than for self-gain or as an exercise of power. Secondly, just war must be waged by a properly instituted authority such as the state. Thirdly, love must be a central motive even in the midst of violence.” 

Wikipedia has an entire page about ‘Just War,’ which summarizes the doctrine’s points and history. 

I disagree with maintaining Augustine’s position for the following reasons:

  1. Augustine also lived a long time ago, when the threat of war, though very great, was not so distant and imminent at once.  What I’m saying is that enemies today can launch a rocket and wipe out a city, at least, in our country, before we have any chance of retaliation – all from thousands of miles away.  In Augustine’s day, and army had to march into another country, wreak its havoc, and then wait for the next move.  Retaliation was more accessible and potentially less harmful.  (If we’re attacked with a nuclear weapon today and choose to repay our damages in kind, a lot more damage has been done on both sides than if we had dropped normal bombs on the weapons facilities the enemy was building to use against us.) 
  2. There were no spy satellites or photographs, no sound recording.  Whereas today we can have concrete proof of the capabilities and intentions of our enemies, when the doctrine of just war was devised, the only way to know for sure what someone could or would do to you was to watch them do it. 
  3. Augustine’s just war seems to rest on the philosophy of retaliation rather than self-defense.  Here in America, we have always believed in self-defense.  That’s more or less the story of our founding (“When in the course of human events…”).  If the sword is coming down on your head, can you not raise your own to prevent it?  A step back from that, if a professed enemy is charging you with his sword point-first, can you do an Indiana Jones, point your gun at him and shoot?  I think you can.  I think that’s still self-defense.  And just. 
  4. Finally, Augustine’s sense of justice may be questionable.  He is often quoted as having said, “An unjust law is no law at all.”  Considering one of his tenets of a just war is that it be legally authorized, I wonder if his position has any foundation at all.  Either he must stand up under his own wisdom, defining justice himself and ensuring that all laws and wars are in accordance with his preference, or (which is ultimately the same thing) he has to use circular reasoning. 

Please don’t misconstrue: I’m not trying to attack any candidate or defend any one decision in history.  I am not telling you about any event that has happened.  Only as a matter of principle, of philosophy, am I warning against an outdated view of the world.  Perhaps if Augustine’s doctrines were grounded in eternal truth, rather than temporal and temporary fact, he would have remained relevant.  When Jesus said to love your neighbor as yourself, that did not rest on technology. 

For further consideration, should a Christian support even a just war?  Or did Jesus not command all our conduct to be based in love and mercy – a turn-the-other-cheek approach to world affairs?  My friend Brian at The Philosophy of Time Travel is wrestling, if I understand it correctly, with this question, and has compiled a list of resources on his post, To Everything there is a Season.  Take a look. 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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Resolved: The American Federal government is too big. 

The federal government has more employees than is legal or necessary. 

The federal government is inefficient. 

The federal government unjustly over-taxes the people of America. 

The federal government uses tax money (and debt) to fund illegal social, education, and scientific programs and departments. 

The federal government has infringed the rights of states in several areas. 

Resolved: A US president has power to rein-in the federal government. 

A US president can veto excessive spending bills referred to him by rogue congresses. 

A US president can speak out against the abuses performed by the federal government. 

A US president can restrict, resize, or dissolve any of the executive-appointed offices and departments. 

A US president can appoint secretaries, attorneys, and judges who will uphold the US Constitution. 

Resolved: The vote cast by a citizen of the United States for president should be affected by the above resolutions. 

Resolved: The above resolutions are not the only rod by which to measure a candidate. 

Inquired: Which candidates understand and affirm the above resolutions? 

Inquired: Which of those who understand and affirm the resolutions have an applicable plan for reforming the federal government back into legal limits? 

Inquired: Which of those with a plan would be able to implement their plan without destroying the nation?  In other words, would the government and country still be able to function,  or govern and defend itself? 

Ron Paul is almost completely a libertarian.  He offers very conservative principles to the disillusioned, betrayed conservative grass roots.  His speeches are full of the resolutions above.  But I have not heard him describe how electing him as president would make a difference.  What changes would he make, and how would he make them?  How would he deal with the fall-out?  I notice in my own life that God, who certainly knows all of my shortcomings and sins, will prune them a little at a time, so that I can still function.  I believe this is because He loves me, not just the mold of perfection.  I doubt that Ron Paul would have the patience to reform the government in a way that would leave a working system in place.  On the other hand, he has been in the legislature for some time without accomplishing anything aside from building a record for himself (not even a name for himself until he publicized it by running for president). 

Rudy Giuliani does not seem interested in restricting the government at all.  He is a social moderate, who therefore thinks government involvement in social matters are justified.  (On a side note I do not think that murder is a social issue; neither is abortion.) 

Mitt Romney is a businessman.  He has shown his capabilities as an executive.  Making an organization run efficiently and productively is his record.  In business, you do not want to cut the influence of your company, or reduce profits.  Yet in government, that is just what needs to be done. 

Though Huckabee was a pastor more than a businessman, he was also an executive of a state.  As governor of Arkansas did he exhibit any tendencies toward reforming the government?  Granted, he was working with a congress of democrats.  Is there anything he is saying now that indicates he will reform Washington? 

Are these men just going to treat symptoms?  Throw more money at problems?  Cut out the cancer so deeply that you’ve amputated vital organs?  Must we the voters be content with a man of the hour, who can get us through the next four years, but will leave the federal government unchecked in its decent toward tyranny? 

What do any of you readers know about these candidates or the others running?  Are my assessments wrong?  Do any of the other candidates meet the resolutions with strength, vision, and confidence?  Can you reassure me that a vote for Huckabee, which I am intending to cast, will be for the good of America? 

Can we the people do anything now to prepare the field of candidates in the future? 

Please comment. 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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Recently my talk radio station made me furious.  1: They eliminated their sister station and sold it to some Spanish group (I’ve nothing against Spanish, but I don’t understand any of it).  So when there’s nothing good on the primary station now I turn my radio off.  (And pray; it’s actually been a good thing personally.)  2: They smushed their schedule to fit the hosts that have been on the primary station and those from the secondary station that they wanted to keep.  Unfortunately they chose very badly.  Now when I wake up, get ready, and drive to work, I don’t hear my usual morning programs, because their three-hour shows have been cropped to two and another OBNOXIOUS show sandwiched in between.  In the evenings I used to be able to listen to Mike Reagan, the voice of reason.  He really is, you know; listening to him was so soothing and common-sense.  Now I don’t think he’s on anywhere around here. 

The only thing they did right was to keep Sean Hannity’s full three hours live at the same time. 

This morning Dennis Miller, the sandwiched host (you might remember him from Monday Night Football; my parents complained every week while he announced games that he was a coarse commedian, not a sports caster), made me furious by saying that a vote for Huckabee in the primary! is a vote for Hillary Clinton to win the presidency, because, he says, only Giuliani can beat Hillary.  That’s just nonsense.  Conservatives don’t want to vote for a liberal, and to a whole bunch of them, when they look at Giuliani and Clinton, they see two pro-choice candidates.  They see them as equal, and right or wrong, will cast their vote elsewhere.  If a candidate wants to run as a conservative, as a Republican, he’d better try to win the conservative vote.  I say again, Giuliani will divide his base while attracting a few measly moderates.  It isn’t worth it.  Not for politics; not for our country. 

What bothers my dad and I is to hear all these conservative voices (online & on the radio) say they really like what Huckabee stands for, and thing he’s charismatic.  Then they say, “But he can’t win.  He doesn’t have the support.  He doesn’t have the cash.”  If all these voices would endorse according to their conscience and not their self-important prophetic politics, maybe he would have the support. 

Meanwhile, the people are starting to assert their influence against the would-be conservative powers among the voices.  Dick Morris wrote an article for Townhall pointing out yet another advance Huckabee is making on the competition against “favorites” like Romney and Giuliani.  Without the money or mainstream support, Huckabee is gaining a following among the common man.  He told his supporters concerning a straw poll for which you had to have a ticket or donation to vote: “I can’t afford to buy you. I can’t even afford to rent you.”

The American people don’t want to be bought. 

To God be all glory. 

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I just read this article on Townhall by Al Cardenas, “An Electability Theory.” His arguments are backed by the founding fathers’ original papers, by history, by biblical theology, and by me – which is why I’m linking here.

The key point, I believe, is when he says that social conservative issues are what bring passion to the voters, and what unites us. Think about people you know. Are they all united on the US military/foreign policy/Iraq issues? Are they all capitalists? Do any of them like welfare? College grants? Those are the economic and defense issues that the Republican powers that be what their candidates to run on, in order to attract undecided voters. Social issues like abortion and marriage are just too sensitive and divisive, they say. I argue that social issues have more passion involved, but there are probably as many who will not vote Republican because they are socialists or angry over Iraq as who would have voted against Republicans because of an anti-abortion stance.

In any case, let “we the people” decide, and stop moving the historically conservative party to the middle by choosing the candidate most like the liberals.

To God be all glory.

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